preparation for our thanksgiving meal has been going on all semester because we had been anticipating the largest number of guests yet. we had an estimation of about 70 people after inviting all of our english students and their families, but when all was said and done last night, we had 80 guests...largest number of dinner guests at the bible school ever!
on thursday afternoon, debbie, angela, ermenita, and i peeled and prepared 50 apples and pears for the apple crisp, and made all the dips and the jello salad.
friday afternoon everyone began working...
andrea and jessica decorated
the boys cleaned and moved furniture,
and the rest of the women were in the kitchen. we cooked from 3 until 11 friday night. we prepared everything but the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.
(it was chaotic but so much fun, it really felt like thanksgiving)
(making 2 of leslie's chocolate pies. i stirred each one for 45 minutes each and only one "set up" so i ended up making my mom's chocolate chip pies on saturday)
(using my "love from my kitchen" cookbook that leslie gave me for my birthday, i made 6 homemade pie crusts from my grandmother's old school recipe)saturday morning, we reported downstairs at 9:30 to begin getting everything together:
jessica and andrea finished all the decorating,
debbie, ermenita, and emily prepared the turkeys, peeled potatoes, and cooked everything,
and the boys finished cleaning the house and then cleaned out one of david's garages.
(this is the after picture of the garage, we forgot a before picture but it was full from ceiling to floor with everything you can imagine. they took everything out, got rid of a lot of it, swept it out, and put it back together like this)
(they found this little guy while cleaning out the garage, we named him sonic and let him go in the backyard. he buried himself in our compost pile, so cute)
meanwhile, angela and i planted all of the plants and flowers we bought almost a month ago. we filled 18 hanging planters, 3 huge concrete planters, and about 10 miscellaneous ceramic pots.
(pansies and sedums)
(half of the 16 hanging planters on the front of the building, the left side of the building mirrors this side. these have ivy, pansies, something called erika, and something that looks like a little dusty green afro. they are all supposed to be winter hardy, but we'll see)
(sedums, they are my favorite and they are everywhere in italy. i'm going to bring these inside eventually)
(our entry way, the little ivy topiaries were there, but we added the planters of bittersweet and the charlie brown christmas tree)
ok, so after we finished and cleaned up outside, i hurried to get ready, and then returned to the kitchen. i made 2 more pie crusts and 2 chocolate chip pies and then joined debbie in the game of musical ovens with the about 20 pans of casseroles, pies, turkeys, and rolls that needed to be cooked/reheated. we hurried to make gravy and whipped cream, and before we knew it, it was 7:30 and there were 80 people in our living room! everything turned out wonderfully and i think everyone had a great time. once we got all the food out we could just relax, and it was so fun to have all of our new italian friends and students together and just enjoying being together and sharing this special meal.
(andrea read the history of thanksgiving to our italian guests since they don't celebrate this holiday. we wanted them to know that it's more than an excuse to eat like a glutton, and why it's special to us today as christians)
(almost 70 of the guests ate in the "classroom", the rest of us ate in the living room)
(our sweet cook, rosa, and her husband, felice. they are the sweetest and i had a blast sitting with them. i almost felt like i was at home with my grandparents)
(ryan with felice and his student valentino)
the last guests left at 11:30
(after the feast, debbie with her feet up, stripping the turkey)
(bags and bags of non-perishable items that we asked our guests to bring for the food pantry at our church, everyone was so generous)
we washed dished for 2 hours and my body was more tired than it has ever been in my whole life, but it was so worth it. i hope it meant as much to our students as it meant to me. people were so grateful and thankful and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. people were giving christmas presents, singing, talking about the food, telling funny stories, playing with kids, making new friends, and planning the next time they would get together...it really felt like a huge family.
that's what i'm thankful for this year...this feeling of family that we have here that makes me feel so comfortable in this home away from "our home". what a blessing!
ham with cranberry glaze
mashed potatoes and gravy
sweet potato casserole